On August 6th, the Grand Teton Field Office partnered with the Jackson Hole Wildlife Foundation (JHWF) and our corporate sponsor, Nature Valley to lead a hugely successful fence marking project that was the first of its kind in Wyoming. The project took place in the Gros Ventre on the eastern boundary of Grand Teton National Park in an effort to increase the visibility of a fence that stands in the historic migration route of pronghorn antelope known as the Path of the Pronghorn. This location was also selected for our Nature Valley project because of its importance as one of the four threatened state lands sections within Grand Teton National Park to bring greater attention to the importance of preserving this parcel.
The purpose of the project was to help mitigate the adverse impact of four‐strand barbed wire fence, by increasing its visibility to pronghorn, elk and deer, and decrease the hazards posed by this potentially lethal obstacle to migration. This particular fence directly affects a threatened band of pronghorn that have used this corridor for spring and fall migrations for over 6,000 years. This project also benefitted many other species of ungulates, as well as threatened birds such as sage grouse, and iconic raptors such as red tail hawks; both regular victims of bird strikes and mortalities resulting from collisions with barbed wire fences.
On the day of the project, 30 volunteers marked nearly 5 miles of barbed wire fence using small pieces of cut vinyl siding, strategically hung on in an alternating pattern on strands of wire. Although more research is needed to definitively document the benefits of the fence marking technique, biologists have noted significant decreases in mortality from pilot projects in other states utilizing this technique. The volunteers worked their way through sage brush, aspens, and uneven terrain, to mark the fence‐line. With persistence and a tremendous effort, the volunteers completed the project just in time to sit down to a well deserved lunch near the final corner of the fence, complements of Nature Valley. From our strategic location on the top of a ridgeline overlooking the national park, with the majestic Tetons towering over the valley floor in the distance, there was a tangible sense of accomplishment and satisfaction that comes from a job well done. After refueling with food and Gatorade, and Nature Valley granola bars, we gathered to listen to one of the lead volunteers from the JHWF describe the migration route of the pronghorn antelope while pointing out the visible path that the antelope follow every year, as they’ve done for millennia. After cleaning up we walked down the fence line, taking in the full view of the completed project, happy to have contributed in some way to the preservation of the pronghorn’s migration route, as well as the protection of the Park’s rich variety of wildlife.
Read more about NPCA's efforts to restore the unique long-distance migration and improve winter habitat for the few remaining pronghorn of Yellowstone National Park.